Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dot's Bookcase: Jamie Cloud Eakin Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects

Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects: Design and Construction, Ideas and Inspiration
Jamie Cloud Eakin

Imagine a Baseball field with the green grass freshly mowed, blue skies blushing in the late hours, and the Sun throwing down sparkling kisses to caress the faces of those watching from the stands.  Up to the bat comes Jamie with a Bead Embroidered bat slung over her shoulder.  The pitch comes almost blinding her with the twinkling of thousands of crystals.  She swings and makes it to first base with her 2005 Beading with Cabochons.  Looking up the ball is rising higher and higher to touch the Sun so she takes off and reaches second base with her 2010 Bugle Bead Bonanza.  Still the ball is hurtling toward the upper reaches of the stands, so she takes third bases with 2011 Dimensional Bead Embroidery.  Still the ball grabs the sky refusing to let gravity take it, and Jamie hits home base with 2013 Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects.  The crowd is standing as Jamie stands with at coveted Home Run under her belt.  She finds herself showered with a bucket of energy drink colored crystals as her fans cheer her new endeavor with great enthusiasm.  This is all playing in a big screen in the back of my mine as I greedily work my way through Jamie Cloud Eakin’s fourth marvelous book.  

With each of her four books that evolve around the bead weaving technique of Bead Embroidery, Jamie takes her followers step by step into the world of color, form and texture.  Bead Embroidery Projects is the next logical step by combining design and construction beginning with a tip on how to make your own personal collar to manipulating components using the tips and ideas she has given the designer to advance and compliment their skills in jewelry making to create unique individual pieces of art.  

In the project Loop de Loop Necklace (pg. 29), she explores a simple design made stunning by adding dimensional techniques.  With English Garden (pg. 47), she shows how working with multiple focal cabochons can change the appearance of the piece.  I was excited to see that she suggest recording the experiments with pictures for future references.  I do this, and it is something that I’ll go back to again and again to decide if I really did make the correct adjustments to the design element.

With the project My Fair Lady Necklace (pg 62), the object of the lesson is to using multiple focal components assembled by experimenting with how the draping strands of seed beads and stone at stress connection points can change the design and visual appearance of the piece.

The project Circulating Round Necklace concentrates on design and construction using connections of components and additional connections for a stabilizing effect of the assembled pieces.  Jamie here recommends two connections with each component construction that is a great idea as I myself have struggled with twisting and turning components in past constructed necklaces.

Then Jamie shows how using Asymmetrical designs with the project Waterfall Necklace (pg 97) can change the visual appearance have a piece while taking the assemblage of the individual components to new heights of completion.

The remainder of the book is filled with earring and bracelet projects that though smaller have just as much thought into construction and design as a larger necklace project.  She shows multiple variations for each project to stimulate creative experimentation.  One of my favorite bracelet projects is Marquis Magic Bracelet (pg 133) that pulls a positive visual response with color and the use of multiple components.  And then who doesn’t enjoy a big doses of eye candy in the gallery pages which I was thrilled as I saw a friend of mine (Arline Lewis), whose work I love and several pieces she’s gifted me with, showcased in the gallery.

If you love Bead Embroidery as much as I do, then do not hesitate to add Jamie’s fourth book to your permanent collection.  And if you don’t have the other three books, then definitely go out and purchase them as I can guarantee you will not be disappointed with the thought and work Jamie has put into each and every project. 
 As always, LarkJewelry and Beading has given the reader a fantastic layout with Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects.  All I’m saying is that Jamie has hit that “ball” so high knocking it outside of the ball park that it just might find itself up in the heavens twinkling down on each of us every night reminding us to create, experiment and enjoy.

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Trip to Porstmouth Ohio

Since I now have weekends off, we thought that it might be a good weekend to head down to our hometown of Portsmouth Ohio to see if any of the Fall colors have appeared.  We decided to take Sammy with us using his new seat belt.  Sammy is use to traveling with his previous owner, so he pretty much settled into the back seat and sat alert watching the scenery whiz past as we headed down Rt. 23.  It was a cool Autumn morning with bright blue skies, but as soon as we got with miles of Chilicothe Ohio, the fog rolled in along with dark gray ominous clouds.  Not a good omen.

We made it down and decided to head to the Mighty Ohio River.  Sammy fought his first battle of the day on the banks of the Ohio after a barge slowly cruised causing waves that just could not be tolerated by any terrier.  We walked him along the bank, then went back on the other side of the flood wall to view the Flood Wall Murals of Portsmouth Ohio.  Many people were also strolling along taking pictures and looking at the Murals of the wonders of Portsmouth's past.  Both Chris' and my paternal family were founders of Portsmouth.  Each of our families have chapters in the History of Scioto County.  My Father's family came to this area settling in Alexandria which was on the other side of the Scioto River, but due to flooding and the Indian Wars had to leave, but returned after the area was safe for settlement and were one of the few families making the banks of the Ohio and Scioto River their homes.  My Father's Mother's family were also founders, but they were here long before the white settlers crossed the mountains into the fertile Ohio River valley.  So I do have deep deep roots here. 

Here is a You Tube of the about the Flood Wall Murals of Portsmouth Ohio and the Ancient mounds that were found in this area.  Most of the Ancient Indian Mounds are gone, but there are a few left to showcase how important and rich this area was.

Unfortunately, this is what you see when you turn 180 degrees from the beautiful murals.  Most of the glorious buildings from Portsmouth's past have either been torn down, burnt down, or look abandoned like this.  It is such a shame to see the decay of a once proud and remarkable River city.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bees' Knees

While I was sewing away on my machine (Hal) just having the best time (it could be that an old Barbara Stanwyck movie was on TCM instead of the actual act of using a sewing machine), that the phrase Bees Knees kept playing over and over in my head.  Of course this could have been because I was in the process of making actual bee dolls for a custom order from an old acquaintance.  So I began to wonder what in the word did BEES KNEES mean.  So off to the internet to look. 

I found references to a dancer who won the Charleston championship in the 1920s which might explain a connection with an old movie from the 1930s and bee fabric :

 One tenuous connection between the bee's knees and an actual bee relates to Bee Jackson. Ms. Jackson was a dancer in 1920s New York and popularised the Charleston, being credited by some as introducing the dance to Broadway in 1924. She went on to become the World Champion Charleston dancer and was quite celebrated at the time. 

Another was a nonsense phrase to innocents :

Bee's knees' began to be used in early 20th century America. Initially, it was just a nonsense expression that denoted something that didn't have any meaningful existence - the kind of thing that a naive apprentice would be sent to the stores to ask for, like a 'sky-hook' or 'striped paint'. That meaning is apparent in a spoof report in the New Zealand newspaper The West Coast Times in August 1906, which listed the cargo carried by the SS Zealandia as 'a quantity of post holes, 3 bags of treacle and 7 cases of bees' knees'. The teasing wasn't restricted to the southern hemisphere. The US author Zane Grey's 1909 story, The Shortstop, has a city slicker teasing a yokel by questioning him about make-believe farm products.

But I like to believe that it is this explanation why I kept citing this phrase over and over and over again:
Bees carry pollen back to the hive in sacs on their legs. It is tempting to explain this phrase as alluding to the concentrated goodness to be found around a bee's knee, but there's no evidence to support this explanation.

Concentrated sweetness!  Doesn't that sound just delicious to think about that there is a hidden place where we can just reach (unless the bees are awake and then they are more likely to sting the crap out of your hand) something wonderful.  Just think of finding your Creative Muse behind a Bee's Knee.  Wouldn't that be wonderful if you just collected all that CM, swallowed it whole, and let all that delicious golden power direct your hands to make wondrous things?  Yes, please.  I'll have two portions.

So as I'm getting back into sewing and learning construction and Hal's little imperfections, I'm just taking a few nibbles of that CM that I've found behind the knees of these cute little bees.

A little thanks to Judi Decker who believed in me to create a couple little bees to wing their way to her house.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Swimming Mermaid

Finally finished my swimming mermaid doll.  I experimented with sculpting the body manipulating the fabric by folds and tacking down to give the doll a more dimensional appearance.

I didn't make the breast out of cloth, but decided to just cut in half a commercially bought felt ball. 

I also decided after needle sculpting the face that I wanted to do something different with the face than use nail heads.  So I found my bag of scrap felt and embroidery floss.  Very cute with the black glass drop beads for the eyes.  A little color on the lips and cheeks finishing up a head a little different than what I usually do
To achieve a fish scale look, I used the fan technque with left over pearls and other beads residing on my work desk
I used a fringing technique that mimics sea weed for the hair

And with some weights inside her body, I don't have to worry about a doll stand as she's just swimming in the currents.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dot's BookCase: Marcia DeCoster's Beads in Motion

Marcia DeCoster’s
 Beads In Motion: 24 Jewelry Projects That Spin, Sway, Swing, And Slide

Marcia DeCoster, one of the most beloved Jewelry Artist in the world has wowed us again with Beads in Motion from Lark Jewelry & Beading Bead Inspirations series.  Marcia’s first book Beaded Opulence a part of Lark’s Bead weaving Master Class series is still an inspiration of bead weavers, now has a companion book from Marcia that is playful and delightful using motion as the beginning trigger for each of the 24 projects. 

I have to admit that I’ve taken more classes with Marcia than any one else and each time I’ve been pushed to use the techniques she’s shown me to go outside the box and incorporate them into my own view work.  With glamorous photos of each project showing it completed and then how it MOVES combined with Marcia’s signature illustrations, each project can be successfully completed.  Having a piece of Art that you can spin, sway, swing or slide can be a constant reminder of how FUN jewelry can become. 

Right Angle Weave used with crystals and pearls create a stunning piece of joy in Carousel Bracelet (Pg. 54) creating a spinner on the top gliding around the focal element which is a perfect distraction while waiting in traffic.  Riveted Necklace (Pg. 70) is just a delight to look at which the stunning color combinations Marcia has shared for this project.  Necklace and pendant spinning around a central beaded rivet is a stunning piece of Art that will be attract attention when you wear it.  Be prepared to have everyone wanting to admire this stunner.  

Passion Flower Bolo (Pg. 110) uses daggers and a central crystal bezeled Rivoli to make a sparkling bloom that can be used in a pretty mesh chain.  I could definitely see Rita Hayworth wearing something like this in a seductive Film Noir movie, but here you have the project to make you feel like a Movie Star out on the town.

The last project in Beads in Motion is Marcia’s stunning Rings of Saturn Necklace (Pg 114) that I can tell you are delightful to make (oh yes, I’ve made two from purchased kits and actually sold both of them while wearing  at art shows).  Three crystal embellished rings spin around a central peyote vessel creating a sparkling effect that will definitely have all eyes in the room looking at you. 
If you ever get a chance to take a class with Marcia, you will be delighted and enchanted with her as a teacher and a jewelry designer.  Marcia is always experimenting with new designs and computer skills and shares her world with followers on her blog.  Until then, you just must add Marcia DeCoster’s Beads in Motion to your Christmas list…or why wait!  But it NOW and enjoy creating flowing moving jewelry that will make the child inside you extremely happy.

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dot meets her Hal

If you've known me for awhile, you are aware that I have only been sewing on a machine since 2006 or whereabouts.  Judy Skeel went with me to Westerville Sew & Save to help me pick out a machine that I felt comfortable with and that would give me enough bells and whistles to make me happy.  Plus, I wanted a machine that I could if necessary take me me to doll maker conferences out of town.  I chose a Janome taking it home with a little trepidation as in High School I actually flunked Home Economics sewing section.  Hey, why was it considered common knowledge that you flipped down the foot to start sewing...I wasn't told that...is that just in our genes that we know how to use a sewing machine.  Nope, didn't think so.  Therefore, I wasn't too thrilled to begin learning to sew when I was in my 50s, but it is never too late to learn.

The first conferences I took my Janome machine to were full of frustration for me.  I struggled to get my machine to do anything and even just plain straight stitching was a real painful experience.  So back to basics with a little help from my Guilded Liliy sisters on how in the world do you actually sew on a machine.  All the time, I'm pulling thread here & there, I was picturing in my mind the voice of HAL 9000 talking to Dave in the movie 2001.  So, I started to call my little machine HAL because I knew "he" was just a machine and there to help me in my job of creating, BUT...in the back of my mind I knew there was something evil there.  Hal and I have struggled over the years getting to a certain understanding where our relationship could actually be pleasant.  I also learned that for Hal to actually work well I had to do certain things that once again came naturally to others but I had to be told.  Mainly, I didn't realize that you actually have to CHANGE the needle periodically.  Oh and there are different needles for different types of thread.  And number one rule is that Hal does not like hand embroidery thread going through his needle.  Not to mention tension and thread count and this list of things I had to know before I was suppose to start sewing grew and grew.  Meanwhile, there sits Hal on my work table, patiently waiting for me to learn more about how to use a sewing machine.  He's done a pretty good job with my total lack of knowledge.

And don't laugh, but until recently I didn't realize that there were two different stitching options on Hal.  I had been using the zig zag instead of the straight stitch.  DUH!  Of course that made a big gigantic difference when actually trying to do free motion embroidery or even sewing doll bodies.  Once again, did the teacher in 9th grade Home Ec. mention that in class...no!  So I've been sewing doll bodies of my own design lately.  I've had people in the beading world wanting me to sew bodies for them too.  My biggest request so far has been for mermaids.  I sewed up a bunch of 10 for one customer who I know will be embellishing them with lots of gorgeous raised texture.  Then I had another order for three from someone else.  Did Hal & I have a good time?  Well yes...I did raise a glass of wine to our blooming friendship.  But still hand stitching is going to be my relaxation time especially needle sculpting faces for doll bodies.  I'm determined to make Hal my friend...and actually read the manual someday.

Dot's Book Case: Soutache: 30 Gorgeous Bead Embroidery Designs.

Soutache: 30 Gorgeous Bead Embroidery Designs
Anneta Valious

Several months ago, there was an online discussion praising the look of Soutache jewelry mainly being done by European Jewelry Artist.   Many announced that they considered using Soutache as a fad that would eventually wear itself out and fade into obscurity.  AnnetaValious, in her new book Soutache another great book from Lark Jewelry and Beading company as part of their Bead Inspirations series, states that Soutache trim have been incorporated in clothing, uniforms and hats throughout history.  So therefore, it is prime time that it be used in jewelry design.   I’ve been admiring for a while the images of SoutacheBead Embroidery jewelry predominately used by European Artist incorporating traditional Bead Embroidery techniques with Soutache Trim.  Up until recently, Soutache trim was difficult to obtain in the United States so it hasn’t been used in many projects.  Now with many colors available through online Bead shops and Anneta Valious’ gloriously illustrated book, I believe that we’ll be seeing more Soutache added to a variety of jewelry trends making it delightful and thrilling to add to tools for creativity.  I was extremely delighted to see many pieces of Jewelry Art used in the 2013 Battle of the Bead Smiths.  

Each project in Anneta’s newest book has clear concise photo illustrations from the simplest design (Pg. 19) using multiple strands of Soutache trim to the stunning Moon River necklace combing multiple pieces to achieve a balancing act of symmetry and color (Pg.129). 

From elegant necklaces, bracelets, and even earrings, this versatile trim finds its way embracing and enhancing traditional bead embroidery jewelry.  Necks, wrist and earrings aren’t the only body part that can be a showcase of Soutache jewelry as Anneta shares a project showcasing Soutache with rings such as the Mirage Ring (Pg 98).

Anneta recommends using 1/8 inch wide Soutache trim gluing the ends so that the strands of the Soutache trim won’t fray.  I’ve used my thread burner that also seems to work very well.  It does take practice but adding any new product has its learning curve. Meanwhile, Anneta’s book has many photos of projects that will thrill you and take you on a ride of joy.
Example of photo illustrations easy to follow

Soutache Bead Embroidery is here to stay. And I applaud having one more material to use while creating and pushing boundaries.  I also was talking to a fellow doll makers like myself who is now thinking about how to use Soutache with beads in new doll designs.  Yes, Soutache is going to be around for awhile, and I’m sure it is going to make a big impact in future jewelry designs. 
Soutache trim can be found online :
In the UK, Bojangle Beads 
Other various bead supply online stores and, if you're lucky as I am, at your local bead store 

Disclosure...As a reviewer of  products from Lark Books, I receive the book above free of charge. I have been asked to review these products and give my honest opinion of the products...positive or negative. I am not being compensated by Lark Books for my endorsement as it pertains to the products received and reviewed. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall is in the Air

Red leaves cascading down to carpet the yard with dancing color, dew drenched grass in the early mornings, frosty breaths escaping from the bird bath, and clear blue skies are all forecasters of Autumn.  Here in Central Ohio, we really don't need look at the calendar to know that we are one step closer to snow and icy cold.  But meanwhile, it is time to enjoy Mother Nature putting on one more show embracing herself with color.

Grab a hot beverage as the Crisp Fall air is here to stay
Another thing that this time of the year signals is that it won't be long until we hear the jingling sound of bells and Christmas Carols.  What a perfect time to start your list of wants and subtle hints to those wanting to gift you with the perfect present.  For Bead Artist, those definitely would be some of the finest books to entice and wet the creative appetite.  Lark  Craft Books has a fantastic line of books that should and need to be in any crafter/artist book case.  I know they are all there in mine within easy reach for me to casually thumb through whenever I have a few moments to luxuriate in projects and just plain eye candy.  Therefore, I'm going to showcase a few of the newer books Lark has to offer this month. So get ready to want...and want some more...and want even more.  Lark Books has something for everyone's taste.

Keep your eyes out for a month of book reviews by me of  Lark Craft Books featuring designers and artist that are currently creating challenging pieces of Art.

And don't forget that inspiration can be found as close as your own backyard.